Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Celebrating Roger Tory Peterson's Birth Centennial

The NEW Peterson Field Guide:
Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America

"In this century," wrote ecologist Paul Ehrlich, "no one has done more to promote an interest in living creatures than Roger Tory Peterson, the inventor of the modern field guide."

Born in 1908 in Jamestown, New York, Roger's enchantment with birds began when he was 11 years old. During his lifetime, Roger Tory Peterson was a renowned naturalist and birder and is considered the inventor of the modern field guide. Originally published in 1934, when he was 25 years old, A Field Guide to the Birds revolutionized bird watching—2,000 copies of the original printing sold out in just two weeks. Timed with the centennial of his birth, Houghton-Mifflin is releasing the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America which combines the classic Peterson guide traits with twenty-first century technology.

The new guide combines the Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds and Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds into a single volume, and a handy one page index is located on the very first page for quick reference. Included in the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America are forty new paintings, each painted by Bird Cape May contributor Michael O'Brien who said: "It is an honor to be part of the Peterson legacy." Michael also designed the plates and collaborated with Michael DiGiorgio on digitally enhancing Peterson's art to preserve the original paintings while enhancing them to reflect new knowledge. All-new range maps with the most up-to-date information, thanks to the North American bird distribution expertise of Paul Lehman, are included both with the species accounts and in a larger size at the back of the book—Peterson style. The revised text includes all of the current information known about each species and the addition of both video podcasts and a new resource website (, brings the new Peterson guide into present day and appeals to the next generation.

For a more in depth account, please read Mark Garland's review of "The New Peterson Field Guide" under Tigrina Times: Birder's Bookshelf.

Peterson died in 1996 at the age of eighty-seven at his home in Old Lyme, CT. On this day that marks the centennial of his birth, we remember how Roger changed the way we look at birds and his countless contributions to the environmental field. In fact, Roger was on the first winning World Series of Birding team which marked the beginning of a legacy in raising funds for environmental causes.

To purchase a copy of The NEW Peterson Field Guide visit any one of the NJAS Stores listed here. Or to order a copy, please call CMBO's Northwood Center (609)884-2736 or the Center for Research & Education (609)861-0700.

Peterson, Roger Tory. Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America. Contributions from Michael DiGiorgio, Jeffrey A. Gordon, Paul Lehman, Michael O'Brien, Larry Rosche, and Bill Thompson III. Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008. 527 pages softcover, $26.00. ISBN-13: 978-0-618-96614-1; ISBN-10: 0-618-96614-5.

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